Steel Wool Games’ Flyhunter Origins Lands on iOS, Android [Interview]

FlyhunterSteel Wool Games and publisher Ripstone have announced the launch of Flyhunter Origins on iOS and Android devices. The game follows Zak, a janitor in an alien spaceship, who must save the day when some expensive bug cargo is jettisoned into space and crash-lands on Earth. Translating their experience as Pixar veterans into the mobile space, the team at Steel Wool Games has created a game that aims to provide “cinema-worthy animation” and an engaging storyline for players across not only mobile, but also PC, Mac, PlayStation Vita and Tegra-powered devices.

Flyhunter Origins is a level-based side-scrolling platformer, which asks players to traverse environments as tiny Zak, jumping on massive flowers and mushrooms to clear environments while picking up biomass and bug eggs (currency). Most bugs on the path can be swatted with Zak’s helpful flyswatter, while players also eventually unlock a zapper, which can freeze enemies in their paths (though it has a battery limit).

Levels include obstacles, including deadly spiders, frogs and venus fly traps, but players pass checkpoints along the path, which eliminate the need to start over from scratch each time one falls victim to these items.

At the end of each standard level, players are shown a data screen, which keeps track of the number of bug eggs collected (and the total possible number) and whether or not players found any hidden secrets within those levels (where available). These secrets may contain new outfits for Zak, for instance. Users can spend their collected bug eggs on upgrades for the swatter and zapper, increasing the damage of the swatter or the battery life of the zapper, for instance.

In addition to these platforming levels, players will chase after key bugs that must be returned to the ship. In the case of catching a fruit fly, for instance, players fly away from the screen, using their jetpack to boost and catch up to the insect, and must then swat the fly a large number of times to actually capture it.

We had a chance to chat with Steel Wool Games’ Andrew Dayton about the development of the game, and how the team’s history with film helped them create this mobile experience.

Inside Mobile Apps: What has the team learned from their experience with animated films that has carried over into game development?

Andrew Dayton: From a creative point of view, I would say the strong understanding of story structure, character design and development helps immensely. From a technical point, understanding how to manage a complex pipeline and keep the flow of work efficient is a huge benefit when working in games; specifically, having to deal with our entire team working remotely for the most part.

IMA: With the game being developed for so many platforms (PlayStation Vita, PC, mobile, etc.), how has Flyhunter Origins been specifically optimized for a mobile platform? For instance, are the controls different on these touch-screen devices?

AD: It was immensely important for us to allow players using touch to have as smooth and satisfying [an] experience as those using controllers. We spent a lot of time dialing in the touch control mechanics and we feel really happy with how they turned out. We started out developing the game for PC while keeping in mind high end mobile devices; we didn’t want to compromise our visual style too much. We want someone playing Flyhunter Origins on their iPad or Shield Tablet to have as rich a visual experience as a PC/Mac player does.

IMA: With the number of existing game publishers, what drew Steel Wool Games to Ripstone to publish Flyhunter Origins?

AD: We met with the owners of Ripstone, Phil Gaskell and Leo Cubbin, and we all seemed to really have similar ideals. They knew the risk of working with a developer that had never published a game before, but they felt strongly that we had the ability to create something unique. They have been great partners and have helped us immensely along the way.

Flyhunter Origins is available to download for $2.99 on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.